Put simply, no. Visible soot and smoke damage, along with the risk of structural collapse, can make it unsafe to remain in your home after a fire. Even if the fire is a small one, the potential damage soot and smoke can have to your health is not worth the risk. Your home will need decontaminating and restoring before you can re-enter it again.
What to do immediately after a fire:
Once the emergency fire service has finished putting out a fire, they will advise you on the condition of your property, and whether it is even safe to enter. If it is considered unsafe, you won’t be able to enter the house at all.
If you can enter your home, you should do the following:
- Remove any valuables or important documents.
- Close all doors and windows
- Secure your property as much as possible and alert the police or local council if you cannot
Afterwards contact your insurers and suppliers to make them aware of the situation.
You will not be able to sleep in your house due to smoke and soot damage, so make arrangements for alternative accommodation, either in temporary accommodation provided by the council or with friends or family.
How does smoke damage happen?
Regardless of the size of the fire, smoke will quickly make its way around the house, spreading through vents, plug sockets and small gaps. It’s the residual damage after a fire that’s truly dangerous, where the micro-particles that form soot will have contaminated your house.
Soot is created by particles from the materials that have been burnt or singed. These micro-particles are what’s left over from the elements that don’t burn fully, or are the chemical compounds left behind after excess heat potentially caused a reaction. This potentially risky blend of particles coats various surfaces in a greasy layer that can be hard to remove.
Smoke damage begins with a fire but ends with soot.
Why is soot dangerous to humans?
Often invisible to the naked eye, soot particles contain harmful chemical compounds, potentially including:
- Carbon monoxide
- Hydrogen cyanide
- Microplastic compounds
Depending on the materials burnt, this will affect the soot that is formed. Wood fire soot will look completely different to the soot after a plastics fire. As you don’t necessarily know the compound chemicals of every material burnt, knowing what soot contains is largely impossible. There may also be residual carbon monoxide still lingering, which can be fatal in some circumstances.
A common effect of soot damage is skin irritations, which can range from small, localised irritations to more permanent and dangerous irritations. For those with already sensitive skin, it can aggravate existing conditions.
There is also the risk of lung and blood damage from chemical particles, some of which can be temporary but other situations can last for years.
Therefore, this requires a specialist company to decontaminate your house before you enter. They will be protected with the correct PPE and approved cleaning solutions that can successfully decontaminate your house from soot and smoke damage.
Who is at risk from smoke damage?
Whilst everyone is at risk from smoke damage, some are more so than others. These include:
- Those with autoimmune conditions, such as diabetes, lupus, and similar
- The elderly or infirm
- Young children
- Those who are pregnant
- People with any lung condition
- People with heart or blood illnesses
Anyone who is more susceptible to smoke damage should be kept away from a fire as much as possible and shouldn’t enter a house until it is fully restored.
Pets are also best kept away from fires. Animals such as cats who return to familiar locations should be kept in secure rooms while you wait for your home to be restored.
How does Restorations [UK] help?
As part of our fire restoration service, we first decontaminate the property thoroughly before restoring it.
All soft furnishings and materials must be completely clean, as the porous nature of these materials will hold onto dangerous chemicals if not thoroughly dealt with. Our expert team of restorers are able to take damaged soft furnishings to our decontamination space for detailed work, before having them lab tested to ensure no chemicals remain.
Once the furniture and rooms are decontaminated, we begin to restore the home to the way you remember it by using photos of your property and our 30 years of experience.
If you’ve been affected by smoke and fire damage, and want a professional restorations company to restore your house, get in touch today.